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California Proposition 20 (2010)

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Title: California Proposition 20 (2010)  
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Subject: California Proposition 14 (2010), California Proposition 19 (2010), California elections, June 2010, San Francisco Board of Supervisors election, 2010, California elections, June 2012
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California Proposition 20 (2010)

A California Congressional Redistricting Initiative, Proposition 20 was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California. It was approved by 61.2% of voters. [1] Election officials announced on May 5 that the proposition had collected sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot.[2] The measure is known by its supporters as the VOTERS FIRST Act for Congress.

The Congressional Redistricting Initiative:

  • Added the task of re-drawing congressional district boundaries to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) created by Proposition 11.
  • Defined a "community of interest" as "a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation. Examples of such shared interests are those common to an urban area, an industrial area, or an agricultural area, and those common to areas in which the people share similar living standards, use the same transportation facilities, have similar work opportunities, or have access to the same media of communication relevant to the election process."

Ballot language was filed by Charles Munger, Jr., who was also Proposition 20's largest financial supporter. Munger, the son of billionaire Charlie Munger, was a supporter of Proposition 11 in 2008, which created a new way for political districts to be drawn for California's state legislators and its state Board of Equalization.

A competing initiative that also qualified for the November 2 ballot, California Proposition 27 (2010), sought to repeal Proposition 11.

Proposition 20 and Proposition 27 each had a so-called "poison pill" provision. This means that if they both received a majority vote, the proposition that received the highest majority vote is the law that would go into effect. Since Proposition 20 passed but Proposition 27 did not, neither provision was triggered.

Ballot language

Ballot title
Text of Proposition 20, the "Voters FIRST Act for Congress"
Official summary
Removes elected representatives from the process of establishing congressional districts and transfers that authority to recently authorized 14-member redistricting commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and representatives of neither party.
Summary of estimated fiscal impact
No significant net change in state redistricting costs.[3]

Congressional re-districting

If this initiative had not succeeded, the next Governor of California and members of the California State Legislature would have chosen how to draw lines for however many U.S. Congressional districts California is determined to be entitled to after the 2010 census. Estimates are that California will have somewhere between 52 and 54 seats in congress after those census calculations are completed.[4]

From 2000 to 2010, the population in California has undergone a major shift eastward, with people moving to California's inland areas from its coastal enclaves. This means that California's congressional district boundaries will certainly undergo major upheaval after the 2010 census. As one example, the San Francisco Bay Area grew less than 1% since the last redistricting, while the Central Valley area has grown by 21%. Los Angeles County has grown 5%, while San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties have grown by 17%.[5]

Another notable factor is that California's population hasn't grown, relative to the population of the rest of the United States, and may even have proportionally shrunk. California may even lose one or two seats.[5]

Constitutional changes

Proposition 20 amended three sections of Article XXI of the California Constitution.

The three sections are:

  • Section 1 of Article XXI
  • Section 2 of Article XXI
  • Section 3 of Article XXI



Charles Munger launched the campaign to qualify the Congressional Redistricting Initiative for the 2010 ballot. Munger was also a key supporter of 2008's Proposition 11, having given about $2 million to that effort.[6]

The New York Times characterized Proposition 20's supporters as "an unlikely collection of election-reform groups, civil rights nonprofits and former officials from both major parties who say that the current system of redistricting has left politicians unaccountable."[7]

Supporters of Proposition 20 included:

A full list of the supporters of Proposition 20 is available from the "Yes on Proposition 20" website.

Arguments in favor

Arguments were submitted to the official California Voter Guide on behalf of a "yes" vote on Proposition 20, as were rebuttals to the arguments provided by Prop 20 opponents. The signers of these arguments were:

  • David Pacheco, the California President of AARP
  • Kathay Feng, the executive director of California Common Cause
  • John Kabateck, the executive director of the California chapter of the National Federal of Independent Business
  • Alice Huffman, President, the California chapter of the NAACP
  • Julian Canete, the executive director of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
  • Richard Rider, chairman of the San Diego Tax Fighters

The arguments made on behalf of Proposition 20 focus on these themes:

  • Proposition 20 will create fair U.S. congressional districts, which will in turn make California's representatives to the U.S. Congress more accountable and responsive, as well as making it easier to vote them out of office.[8]
  • Proposition 20 ends the current system of members of the California State Legislature being in a position to draw the U.S. Congressional district boundaries "for their friends in Congress—districts that virtually guarantee Members of Congress get reelected even when they don’t listen to voters." Also, "Right now, legislators and their paid consultants draw districts behind closed doors to guarantee their friends in Congress are reelected. Sacramento politicians pick the voters for their friends in Congress, rather than voters choosing who will represent them."[8]
  • Proposition 20 is a simple and intuitive extension of a ballot initiative that California voters already approved, California Proposition 11 (2008).[8]
  • Under the current system, politicians have used their redistricting powers to bring about unfair results, and Proposition 20 will put an end to that. For example, "In the last redistricting, Latino leaders sued after a California Congressman had 170,000 Latinos carved out of his district just to ensure he’d get reelected. Now he’s leading the charge against 20!"[8]


Opposition to Proposition 20 is primarily driven by the supporters of Proposition 27.

Donors against

State Rep. Charles Calderon, a $100,000 donor to the "Yes on 27" campaign.

Two campaign committees have officially registered in opposition to Proposition 20. Through September 22, neither of the committees specifically aimed at Proposition 20 had received any contributions to speak of. They are:

  • The "No on 20" campaign committee.
  • The "California Coalition for Leadership and Accountability in Budget and Redistricting, Yes on 25 & 27, No on 20" campaign committee.

However, due to the fact that California Proposition 27 contains "poison pill" language with respect to Proposition 20, any money spent to promote a "yes" vote on Proposition 27 amounts to money spent to hurt Proposition 20, and vice versa.

That main campaign committee endorsing a "yes" vote on California Proposition 27 has raised millions of dollars, including a substantial amount of money from 17 members of the California's delegation to the U.S. Congress as well as members of the California State Legislature.

Arguments against

Arguments were submitted to the official California Voter Guide urging a "no" vote on Proposition 20, as were rebuttals to the arguments provided by Prop 20 supporters. The signers of these arguments were:

  • Daniel H. Lowenstein, a professor at UCLA and a former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission.[9]
  • Mark Murray, the executive director of "Californians Against Waste"
  • Hank Lacayo, president of the "Congress of California Seniors"
  • Aubry L. Stone, president of the California Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Carl Pope, chairman of the Sierra Club

The themes of the main arguments they make against Proposition 20 (and in favor of Proposition 27) are:

  • Proposition 20 will be "a waste of taxpayer dollars".[8]
  • Proposition 20 is said by its opponents to turn back the clock on redistricting law. Proposition 20 mandates that all districts (including Assembly, Senate, and Congress) must be segregated by income level and mandates that all districts be segregated according to 'similar living standards' and that districts include only people 'with similar work opportunities.'"[8]

Editorial opinion

Yes on Prop 20

Newspapers that have editorialized in favor of Proposition 20 include:

No on Prop 20

Path to the ballot

694,354 signatures were required to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Supporters turned in 1,180,623 signature in mid-March 2010, and election officials announced on May 5, 2010 that after an inspection process, the signatures met or exceeded the minimum threshold for ballot qualification.[2]

The petition drive management company hired to collect the signatures was National Petition Management. NPM was paid $1,937,380 (through May 6) for their signature-gathering services.[25]


Proposition 20
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 5,743,162 61.3
No 3,637,062 38.7
Valid votes 9,380,224 91.0
Invalid or blank votes 922,100 9.0
Total votes 10,302,324 100.00

External links

Basic information

  • Text of proposed law
  • Ballot title, summary, and analysis
  • Arguments and Rebuttals, submitted for the California Voter Guide
  • League of Women Voters overview of Proposition 20
  • California Voter Foundation guide to Proposition 20
  • Institute of Governmental Studies overview of Proposition 20


  • "Yes on Proposition 20"
  • Campaign finance reports of VOTERS FIRST
  • "Yes on Proposition 20" on Facebook
  • Yes on 20, No on 27 on Twitter
  • "Yes on Proposition 20" channel on YouTube


  • Yes on 27, No on 20
  • Campaign finance reports for the "No on 20" campaign committee
  • Campaign finance reports for the "California Coalition for Leadership and Accountability in Budget and Redistricting, Yes on 25 & 27, No on 20

Additional reading

  • Props. 20, 27 pit politicians against voters
  • Voters face two competing redistricting propositions
  • On Redistricting Reform: The Status Quo Strikes Back
  • Conflicting redistricting measures


  1. ^ "California Secretary of State", "State Ballot Measures, Election Results, November 2, 2010"
  2. ^ a b , "Ballot measure to expand Prop 11 to Congress OK'd", May 5, 2010Sacramento Bee
  3. ^ July 2 version of the ballot label for Proposition 20, Congressional Redistricting
  4. ^ , "Stage set for epic bloodletting", October 31, 2009Modesto Bee
  5. ^ a b , "Inland population tilt will reshape districts", November 16, 2009San Diego Union Tribune
  6. ^ , "Redistricting Commission repeal gets boost from House Dems", February 2, 2010From The Capitol
  7. ^ , "Tackling Redistricting With Money and Zeal", October 7, 2010New York Times
  8. ^ a b c d e f Official Voter Guide for Proposition 20
  9. ^ , "Give Redistricting Back To Legislature?", December 29, 2009KQED-TV
  10. ^ , "Contra Costa Times editorial: We recommend yes on Proposition 20, no on 27", September 6, 2010Contra Costa Times
  11. ^ , "Props. 20, 27: The flip sides of real change", October 1, 2010Lompoc Record
  12. ^ , "Yes on Prop. 20, no on Prop. 27", September 13, 2010Long Beach Press-Telegram
  13. ^ , "Vote yes on Prop. 20, no on Prop. 27 for a much improved political system", September 14, 2010Los Angeles Daily News
  14. ^ , "Drawing the lines: Democrats prosper by drawing themselves solidly Democratic seats, and Republicans benefit equally by lines drawn to protect their elected officials. It's time to undo this system, so yes on Prop. 20 and no on Prop. 27.", September 24, 2010Los Angeles Times
  15. ^ , "Yes on Prop. 20, No on 27", August 31, 2010North County Times
  16. ^ , "Extend redistricting reform to Congress", September 16, 2010Orange County Register
  17. ^ , "Yes on 20; no on 27", September 7, 2010Riverside Press Enterprise
  18. ^ , "Vote to improve our government", September 28, 2010San Bernardino Sun
  19. ^ , "Redistricting reforms must advance", September 7, 2010San Diego Union Tribune
  20. ^ , "Yes on Prop. 20, no on 27"Santa Rosa Press Democrat
  21. ^ , "As We See It: Yes on 20, No on 27", October 3, 2010Santa Cruz Sentinel
  22. ^ , "Yes on Prop. 20 for fair districts", September 28, 2010San Gabriel Valley Tribune
  23. ^ , "Prop. 20: Yes Prop. 27: No way", September 2, 2010Ventura County Star
  24. ^ , "Leave redistricting reform alone - No on Propositions 20 and 27", September 17, 2010Sacramento Bee
  25. ^ Campaign expenditures, VOTERS FIRST
  26. ^ "For the November 2, 2010, Statewide General Election County Summary Status". California  

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